Republicans Can Show Their Bipartisan Leadership with Latest Akaka Bill Gambit

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By Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. – While Democrats, especially Hawaii’s Congressional Democrats, need to handle anything endorsed by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye with kid gloves, they are faced with the dilemma that the movement to create an exclusive race-based nation on U.S. soil is at odds with Democratic Party ideals.   It is part of the Democratic Party litany to claim credit for opposing “whites-only” (therefore, “race-only”) membership policies in government and society.  Republican candidates for office now have an opportunity to appeal to Democratic sensibilities and even voice publicly what some democrats feel concerning the Akaka Bill.

The latest move to advance a watered-down version of the Akaka Bill through Congress is the attempt by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye to use the mid-term budget bill of the Senate Appropriations Committee to authorize expenditures for recognizing native Hawaiians as an “Indian tribe.”    Although the U.S. Senate’s Native Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Daniel Akaka, recently gave the Akaka Bill a palatable make-over by dropping its language to enroll a sovereign Hawaiian nation,  Senator Inouye’s bill ties his proposed appropriation to Hawaii Act 195  (Legislative Session 2011-12).


The Hawaii legislation establishes a Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to enlist “blood-only” Hawaiians for a future Hawaiian nation.   Even Senate Democrats have demurred in their enthusiasm for Inouye’s efforts.   But Republican Whip Jon Kyl is the first U.S. Senator to articulate clearly what Senators on both sides of the aisle feel:  “I have long opposed the creation of any new government defined by race or blood, but that has always been the core of the various Native Hawaiian tribal recognition bills that have been proposed. This appropriations rider is no different.”  Kyl further points out concerning Hawaii’s Act 195, which excludes non-Hawaiians from membership in its new government,  that it “,,,is a race-based definition and it is contrary to our constitutional principles.”

As November 6th approaches, GOP candidates now have one more opportunity to speak to the common-sense majority who are tired of partisan politics and would find an expression of good principles a breath of fresh air.

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., is a philosopher who lectures on human rights and business ethics in Chinese and American universities.  Dr. Akina is currently a candidate for Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  His website is and his e-mail address in